King shines after fighting for chance at quarterback
Coming out of high school, junior D’Eriq King had one main goal on the football field: play quarterback at the college level.
This season, King has done just that and in the most electric way possible. He has 39 touchdowns in just eight games and is on track to break multiple single season records.
But playing quarterback in college was not a guarantee, and many schools wanted him to change positions. Former head coach Tom Herman and then-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite were some of the only ones to give him a chance.
“Coming out of high school, I had a lot of offers for different positions. I felt like (Applewhite and Herman) were genuine and would give me a chance to play quarterback,” King said.
Schools like Baylor, TCU, Michigan State, UCLA and more came knocking with scholarship offers, but most wanted King to move positions.
“He wanted the opportunity to play quarterback. How crazy does that sound now? People wouldn’t give him a shot to play quarterback,” Applewhite said.
After splitting time between receiver and quarterback in his first two seasons, this was the first offseason that allowed King to focus entirely on quarterback.
With all that time and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ proven offensive system, King has thrived and is close to breaking the American Athletic Conference’s single season touchdown record.
The 45 touchdown record was set last season by UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, and King is on track to score about 63, which would tie the NCAA record set in 2006 by Hawaii quarterback Colton Brennan.
“He’s got a tremendous feel for the position. He knows when to escape, when to let the ball go, when to hold it, sit there and squeeze the trigger in the pocket,” Applewhite said.
With King under center, Houston’s offense leads the nation in yards per game and is No. 2 in points per game.
King has 2,403 yards in the air and 413 on the ground this season to go along with his touchdown count. He had a career-high 551 total yards against South Florida, and he is hitting his stride right into the final stretch of the season.
It is a long march, however, and no team is immune to an upset loss. Houston suffered one such loss in 2015 when the undefeated team lost to UConn to mar its record. Houston finished 12-1 that season with a win in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against Florida State.
“We’ve got a long way to go, we’ve still got to finish, we’ve still got to go out on the practice field tomorrow and get after it,” Applewhite said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else other than number four.”
King said he has never forgotten that other teams would not give him a chance and that it effects his play every day.
“I go to practice, I go to games, with a chip on my shoulder,” King said. “I just go out there and try to prove everybody wrong about what they said I couldn’t do. All I want to do is show them.”
When asked whether or not he has done that, King said, “I feel like I’m doing alright right now.”